Page:History of Iowa From the Earliest Times to the Beginning of the Twentieth Century Volume 2.djvu/336

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“We had marched on foot since leaving Rolla on the 10th of September one thousand one hundred and twenty-seven miles, most of the marches being made during the winter season, exposed to rains and at times over roads almost impassable on account of the mud. Much of the time we had been on half rations and with inadequate supplies of clothing. The hardships endured on these marches had thinned our ranks more than would as many hard fought battles. And now, even after the lapse of time, and more stirring scenes of sieges and battles in which we took part, our memories still retain vivid recollections of the lonely wayside graves where we deposited the bodies of our comrades along the route of those unparalleled marches. They fell not in battle, but by disease contracted while in the performance of duties beyond their strength, and under circumstances of peculiar hardship. We shall never cease to honor their memories for the heroism which enabled many of them at times while even suffering under disease to still continue in the discharge of their duties.”

The command was soon ordered to join Grant’s army, then pushing the siege of Vicksburg from the rear, reaching its position on the left on the 14th of June. Here it remained taking an active part in the various duties required until the surrender of the Confederate army and the strongly fortified city. On the morning of the 4th of July our regiment marching at the head of the division entered the Confederates’ works and was the first on the left to plant the Stars and Stripes on the battlements of Vicksburg. Soon after the surrender General Herron’s Division was sent to reënforce the army of the Gulf, then under the command of General N. P. Banks. The change from the command of the great General who never lost a battle to that of one who brought only disasters to armies he led, was most unwelcome to the Twentieth, taking it from the stirring scene of brilliant victories to a region of monotonous marches and weary garrison duty. At Post Hudson the regiment suffered greatly from sickness and many brave soldiers died during the three weeks’ stay. Early in September the Twentieth was sent with the expedition to Morganza, during which Lieutenant-Colonel Leake was sent out with a small command, including part of the Nineteenth Iowa, to hold an untenable position. At-